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The Grateful Dead: What a long, strange trip it has been for this band which started in 1963 as The Hart Valley Drifters. The musicians tried names such as The Sleepy Hollow Hog Stompers and the Thunder Mountain Tub-Thumpers, and then became Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champs, playing country, before metamorphosing into the rockier Warlocks.
They soon found other bands called The Warlocks. One was the early Velvet Underground on the other side of America. Another was a precursor to ZZ Top. Jerry Garcia was at a party when he decided their psychedelic music warranted a deeper name.
There's agreement he found "Grateful Dead" in a book.
He either found it (1) rapidly and at random, while the band played Valentinian Chance - fortune telling by blindfold-selection of passages; (2) after deliberation.
Some accounts say the others accepted it (1) with varying enthusiasm; other versions say (2) it was backed instantly.
The party's variously said to have been held at (1) bassist Phil Lesh's Palo Alto condo; (2) at the band's manager's house in downtown Los Angeles.
Some say Jerry was on (1) DMT; others that he was on (2) pot; others (3) he was on both and everything else he could get his hands on.
The name itself is said to have come from (1) an entry in an American alphabetical encyclopaedia, Funk and Wagnall's New Practical Standard Dictionary; (2) a phrase in The Tibetan Book Of The Dead; (3) an Egyptian prayer book; (4) The Oxford Dictionary; (5) The Oxford Companion To Classical Music or (6) a volume of Egyptian prayers.
For what it's worth, the best history of the band - as given by their publicist - gives the answers as all (1).
The "quick and grateful dead" legend in folklore tells of people who come back after death to help those still alive who helped them.
Name notes: Often called The Dead. Followers known as Deadheads. Spinoff: New Riders Of The Purple Sage. Members known as Captain Trips, Pigpen. Spinoff: Dinosaurs. Related: Jefferson Starship.
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